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Fort Macleod celebrates past, future

Fort Macleod celebrated its rich past last weekend, while looking forward to a prosperous future.

The community came together for a 150th anniversary celebration that included the return of professional rodeo, an array of musical and other entertainment, and the announcement of a new park on the south side of town.

“The history of this province runs no deeper and no richer than it does in our town,” Thane Hurlburt said.

Champion hoop dancer Sandra Lamouche performed Saturday morning on Main Street as part of the 150th anniversary entertainment.

Hurlburt was master of ceremonies for the official opening ceremonies Friday night on Main Street.

Hundreds of people gathered for a barbecue, music and activities as the celebration officially kicked off.

Maurice and Betty Ann Little Wolf were scheduled to provide a blessing for the 150th anniversary but were unable to attend.

Hurlburt noted that Maurice Little Wolf was a saddle bronc rider at Fort Macleod rodeos back in the 1960s and later joined the RCMP and at present serves as K division’s aboriginal advisor.

Betty Ann Little Wolf is a knowledge keeper and spiritual elder and has been a member of Lethbridge College’s Indigenous cultural support program since 2019.

Town of Fort Macleod chief administrative officer Anthony Burdett provided a land acknowledgement.

“The history and heritage of our town is not complete without the contributions and recognition of those who have called this place home,” Burdett said of the Kainai and Piikani Nations.

Okotoks Mayor Tanya Thorne brought greetings on behalf of Alberta Municipalities.

“It is so awesome to be here celebrating this remarkable milestone,” said Thorne, noting one of her first jobs was as lifeguard at the Fort Macleod pool.

Thorne noted Alberta Municipalities was founded in 1905 and serves as an advocate for a diverse array of communities, including Fort Macleod.

Alberta Municipalities has 260 members across the province, representing more than four million people.

“We strive to be an agent of change that enables a municipality to fully engage any level of government with a capacity to build a thriving community,” Thorne said.

Norah Orr gets her face painted on Saturday morning on Main Street.

“As I stand here today surrounded by the rich history and the endearing spirit of Fort Macleod I am reminded by the resilience that has defined this community for a century and a half,” Thorne said. “It is a testament to the strength, determination and vision of its residents, both past and present, that Fort Macleod continues to flourish and thrive.”

Thorne encouraged people to reflect on the town’s “remarkable” history as well as the boundless potential that lies ahead.

MD of Willow Creek Reeve Maryanne Sandberg presented Fort Macleod Mayor Brent Feyter with a plaque commemorating the town’s 150th anniversary.

“We’re rich in agriculture and ranching and part of the history of this town and wish to continue that in the future,” Sandberg said.

Livingstone-Macleod MLA Chelsae Petrovic said the 150th anniversary was a huge achievement for Fort Macleod.

“I know when we’re in Edmonton we talk about the great small towns across Alberta,” Petrovic said. “And I have to say that Fort Macleod is probably one of the best.”

Petrovic noted the thriving film industry and the booming economy in the town and region as examples of Fort Macleod’s accomplishments.

“To see the community come together like this is absolutely amazing,” Petrovic said.

Foothills MP John Barlow said he is proud to represent Fort Macleod.

“This is a community that is like not many others in terms of your entrepreneurship, the way you embrace your history and heritage,” Barlow said. “It is an incredibly successful community and all of you play a key role in making Fort Macleod what it is.”

“I look forward to what the next 150 years are going to be like in this community.”

Joan Van Waardhuizen tries out Lethbridge College’s virtual reality tour of old Fort Macleod.

Mayor Brent Feyter praised the 150th anniversary organizing committee, sponsors and volunteers and the Town of Fort Macleod staff for putting the celebration together.

Feyter said Fort Macleod has had its ups and downs over the past 50 years but has persevered.

“It’s been through difficult times, it’s been through great times,” Feyter said. “I would say today the Town of Fort Macleod is looking great and it’s good to see this amount of engagement in the community.”

Feyter announced plans for a 150th anniversary park to be built between Fourth and Fifth avenues and Eighth and Ninth streets.

The park, which will be similar to Centennial Park, was made necessary by the steady residential development in that area of town.

Noting this is a town of firsts, Feyter said Fort Macleod is happy to pave the way for Alberta.

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